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From BioGENEius to Champion of Biotech

June 5, 2015
After losing a friend to cancer at a young age, I knew that I would dedicate my life to improving the lives of others who suffered from disease. At that young age it was difficult for me to fathom why, after a colossal investment of time and money into research, there was still no cure for cancer. In high school, I was fortunate enough to find myself working in the lab of Dr. Marek Los, at the University of Manitoba. In addition to more than 3,000 hours of cancer research experience leading to three peer-reviewed publications and the filing of a patent, I also gained an invaluable mentor from the experience. Dr. Los was my mentor for the BioGENEius Challenge, and has continued to be an important influence in my life.

From as early as the ninth grade and on through the completion of my professional master’s degree at the University of Toronto, the fields of biotechnology and biopharmaceuticals have been the primary sources of my inspiration. They also serve as the ultimate driver for my mindset and perspective of the world, which is directed at the application of biotechnology to solve problems in healthcare, business, and industry. The BioGENEius Challenge gave me the recognition and visibility necessary to jump-start my career in biotechnology. In addition to the awards and distinctions I received for my project, the challenge helped me secure prestigious scholarships which aided in my future science and business education. One reason I have stayed interested in these fields is because I can effortlessly envision an incalculable number of ways in which biotechnology can be used to produce highly pragmatic goods.

After the BioGENEius Challenge, I went on to get a professional Master of Biotechnology (MBiotech) degree and currently work in the biopharmaceutical industry. I worked as a marketing associate at AstraZeneca Canada in both the Future Portfolio and Diabetes Portfolio groups and am currently working in the Oncology Portfolio group. Outside of work and academia, I have also served as a mentor in multiple science outreach programs which aim to promote biotechnology to economically disadvantaged elementary and junior high school students.

I am also a passionate advocate and champion for biotechnology and biopharmaceuticals at large. I delivered the keynote address in Chicago for the Annual Gowlings Networking Luncheon at BIO 2013 and another keynote address in Toronto for the Alliance for Commercialization of Canadian Technologies - Innovation 2013 Conference. I also co-led an expert panel at a Life Sciences Policy Roundtable, which resulted in a direct contribution to a white paper used to influence provincial policy in Ontario.

It is my goal to meet and exceed the evolving demands of physicians, payers, and regulators to drive forward superior patient outcomes so individuals can lead happier, healthier lives unburdened by the anchor of disease. If it were not for my start at the BioGENEius Challenge in 2007, I could not see myself where I am today.